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Piceance Basin and the Past

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The first evidence of people in the Northwest Colorado Plateau began around 13,000 years ago. Semi-permanent settlements and abstract rock art, dated 6400 BC to 400 BC, are found in this area.

Of five tribes citing ancestry from the Fremont culture, ending about the 14th century, the Ute Tribe are regarded to have been the primary inhabitants of this area. Either the Ute or the Shoshone are credited with the name Piceance, meaning “Land of Tall Grass “. By the mid-seventeenth century the Utes were utilizing the horse with their hunting and semi-nomadic lifestyle. Horses had been introduced into Central America and migrated north from about the 16th century. In 1776 the first Europeans were briefly in this area. By 1881 large numbers of the Utes were relocated out of this area. However, local oral histories indicate some families of Utes continued to live in and visit this area for hunting into the 1920s.


Starting with the Homestead Act in 1862, and by 1899 there were ninety, 160 acre claims in the Piceance Basin. The conservation movement began in the 1890s and continues today, affecting the private landowners, and government agencies alike, who are given the management and utilization of public lands.     

Knowing that one third of our nation remains a permanent capital asset of the federal government, with valuable assets on all federal land such as gold, silver, copper, soda, salt, water, grass, forest products, oil, gas, and shale oil reserves are found in Colorado. Many archaeological and paleontology sites are found in the Piceance Basin and are administered by state and federal regulations.


Railroads and public migration for homesteads, changed western lands. Development of National Parks and Forest Preserves came with the conservation movement in the 1900s. The historic range rights of grazing and water use have seen the efforts of private landowners toward land improvements with regard to wildlife habitat and rangeland riparian areas, enhancing ranches and the BLM lands, as well the State Wildlife office and Forest management conservation plans.

Wildlife management of big game deer and elk are coordinated with the Colorado Parks and Wildlife local office with regard to vegetation management objectives and the fall hunting season for big game herd management. A priority, and general habitat management for greater sage grouse, which are a state and BLM sensitive species bird, which requires healthy sagebrush communities are observed in the Piceance basin. Their breeding and nesting habits take place from early March to the end of June.


The BLM travel management resources plans must consider spring, summer, fall and winter aspects of recreation uses, being aware of the two plants federally listed on the Endangered Species Act, as well as the five BLM designated sensitive plant species within the Herd Management Area. Sensitive plants are especially vulnerable during the flowering season, late April to early August. 


designed by colton j lavely 2021.

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